To all my new followers, I promise I don't always just post my writing.
The two gods met on an open pavilion above the clouds. She appeared from nothing. He was already there.
His eyebrows raised and his lips curled at the sight of her. “You have changed your mind.”
She drew herself up so she towered over him. “You sound pretty confident. I wouldn’t be if I were you.”
“But, Celi, you are not me. Unfortunately.” His grin grew wider as he added, “For you.”
Rage outlined her features. “I would rather think it was unfortunate for you.”
“You must think me a fool, if you believe for a second that I do not know why you trapped me here. You want the very thing I have offered you. I do not see why you don’t take it.”
Celi turned on her heel, strutting to the edge of the pavilion. She stared over the side, but saw nothing. Clouds did not make good windows. She tilted her head back, her arms crossed. “I wish to be able to change those things I desire to change.”
He clicked his tongue. “You know that is not how it is done, Celi.”
She looked over her shoulder, a lock of hair falling down into her face. Her eyes latched onto his, her pupils turning into red tunnels. Her voice turned deep and lyrical. “I, Celi, goddess of traps and cages, do agree that Noor, god of yearning and fulfillment, will be released from my snare in exchange for three wishes.”
“Ah,” Noor exhaled softly. “So this is your plan.”
Neither one of them moved. Celi waited. Noor thought.
“I assume I will not be allowed to leave until all three wishes are granted?”
She nodded, her chin tilting down, never allowing her gaze to drop.
He brought his fingers together, tip for tip. A hum buzzed around in his throat. It escaped between his lips when they parted. “Since you have altered my first offer of one wish to three, I think it fair that I should be able to alter something as well.”
He straightened and his face grew solemn. “I, Noor, god of yearning and fulfillment, do agree to the exchange proposed under the condition that if the wishes are not brought forth within the century, Celi, goddess of traps and cages, will forfeit her powers to me and become mortal.”
Celi smiled and tucked the strand of hair behind her ear. “And so it is done.”
“And so it is done,” Noor echoed.
He snapped his fingers, the noise unusually loud. “I have given you your first wish.”Celi finally looked away, glancing down once more at the clouds. “Excellent. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be going.”She stepped off the edge of the pavilion and dropped through the hole she had created in the clouds.
The worshipers of Celi grew fat as their hunting traps caught animal after animal. Nonbelievers starved as their crops died from lack of rain. And so it was for fifty years.
The pavilion was no longer new. The marble was chipped in many places, accenting the stains of age. A column leaned precariously, as if it was considering dropping the roof. Noor ran his fingers along its ridges and pondered what its greatest desire would be: to stand tall or to crumble.“Perhaps I should visit more often.”Noor’s hand slid down the stone and flopped back to his side. He continued to study the cracks before him. “You’re going to have to. Half of your time is already up.”Her shoes clicked against the floor as she approached. Her shadow fell over him, obscuring the light. “And I bet you’ve been counting every second.”“As a miser counts coins,” he admitted. “Now, what is your wish?” He turned to face her.Celi reached out her hand, resting her elbow on his shoulder, and stroked the column. “You like this design don’t you, Noor?”“No, not especially.”“Good.” The marble morphed under her fingers, stitching back together. “I didn’t much care for it either.”She drew her hand back and drifted off, circling the border of the pavilion. Her fingers barely grazed each support and the rock turned whole again. She ended her restoration lap at his side, her hands on her hips as she surveyed her work. “That’s more like it.”Noor gave the smallest of nods.“Pity I can’t always keep it this way.” She rocked back and forth, her hands clasped behind her. “Of course, I could keep returning it to its original state, but what a waste of time.”She peeked at him from the corner of her eye, but his expression remained smooth, slack. His hands hung serenely at his sides. There was not a tense muscle in his body.Celi sighed. “Fine. I wish for the ability to make things stay the same.”Noor stomped his foot. The floor vibrated. “Your second wish has been fulfilled.”“Wonderful.” Celi smiled, stepping away. Just before she jumped over the side, she paused. “I’ll even do you a favor.”The slabs of limestone writhed, coming back together like lost puzzle pieces. The pavilion looked as it had the first time he laid eyes on it.“It will now stay like this. You’re welcome.” And she was gone.Noor sighed. At least when the columns cracked the first time it was something new to look at.
The worshipers of Celi lived in houses that never required repairs. The nonbelievers slept outside, not bothering to build new homes for the fires to consume once again. And this lasted for fifty years.
Celi arrived gasping. Her fingers clawed at her chest, trying to dig out the pain. She fell to her knees, her eyes rolling.Noor sat cross-legged before her. A small hourglass snuggled in his palm, the last grains trickling to the bottom. He smiled. “Hello, Celi.”Her tongue twisted in her mouth, but she couldn’t push out the words. The pathways of her body were too small. The pain couldn’t leave through any of them. Bile rushed up her throat, just enough to taste, then slithered back down. She fell onto her hands, coughing.“You think at your age you would be able to read clocks,” Noor continued. Five grains remained in the top of the timepiece.One measly word tumbled out. “I…”And it was over. The final grain tumbled down into the pile. Celi stopped convulsing as the sand settled. Everything was still. A soft breeze swept through.Celi slowly pushed herself up. Her eyes grew millimeter by millimeter. The world was huge. She drew her hands in, shrinking into herself. Or perhaps she was tiny. Her chest hiccupped as it forced her to breathe. The air burned the inside of her nose and made her head feel light.Noor set the hourglass aside and gazed at her. She flinched and heat crept up her neck. A frown line creased her forehead and she cleared her throat. “So, you think you’ve won.”The grin returned to his face. “I know I have.”He snapped his fingers and the outline of the pavilion wavered. The stone turned spongy under her feet, but it was still there. The smile dripped off his face. “What have you done, Celi?”“Noor, god of yearning and fulfillment, will be released from my snare in exchange for three wishes.” Celi’s voice was high in her ears, but its effect was still strong. Noor’s face twisted.She held up a finger. “I wish to be able to change those things I desire to change.”Noor stood and ran at the edge of the pavilion, but an invisible wall stopped him from going over. He pressed his body against it, his cheek pressed flat.Celi put up her middle finger. “I wish for the ability to make things stay the same.”Noor stared at her with one eye, his mouth hanging open.She stood on her toes and raised three fingers above her head. “I wish for you to forfeit your powers to me.”Noor’s whole frame shook. “I will not.”“But you must.” Celi’s limbs went slack. “You agreed to the deal, so you must carry it out.” Her lips rose lazily.“No, no, no,” he muttered under his breath, but his feet came down in two quick stomps.He fell to the ground, his back arching. Celi crouched and placed her palm on his chest. She closed her eyes, reveling in the power that tingled in her fingers, then her arms. It took seconds to spread through her body, but several minutes passed before the prickling stopped.Noor collapsed. Celi stood and walked away. She stopped with her toes hanging in open air to glancee over her shoulder. Noor reached out, his arm just leaving his side. Celi smiled. “Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten.”She leaned over and kissed the nearest column then she tipped forward into open sky. Above her, the pavilion disappeared.
The worshipers of Celi are building a temple where Noor hit the Earth. There are no nonbelievers.